Quite the visionary, Mak Tumang is the talented designer who won the hearts of many when he created the beautiful gown worn by Catriona Gray when she was still vying for the Miss Universe Philippines title.
Now that she’s competing at Miss Universe, Gray enlisted the help of the team that helped her win the national pageant including Tumang. Now that the formidable team-up of creatives unites anew, The Qrown talked to some of the main people behind Gray’s journey.
For this feature, we talked to the humble and talented fashion designer Mak Tumang.
Working with Catriona Gray
Tumang and Gray go way back earlier than what people know. According to Tumang, it was back in 2012 when he first encountered the name, “Catriona Gray.” This was during the Metrowear fashion where Gray was a model.
Fast forward four years, Gray was re-introduced to Tumang by fellow fashion designer Rey Sanatos. Gray was still part of Aces and Queens. They asked Tumang to create some gowns for her.
“Working with a passionate queen is very challenging,” reveals Tumang. “You have to understand her vision and immerse yourself (into it).”
For Tumang, “The challenge brings out (my) creativity and artistry; as a designer, it makes me feel more excited with the outcome of our ideas.”
Tumang’s Fashion Design Journey
Growing up, Mak Tumang has always been interested in fashion. Tumang shared that he watched closely how his grandmother produces curtains and dresses at home. When he was in high school, he volunteered to design costumes for school plays. This has played a good part in Tumang finding his true calling early on.
It was not an easy journey. “Growing up from a conservative and political family, my fashion journey has taken me through loops and loops of confusion, rejection and diversion from passion.”
Instead of taking Fashion design, Tumang decided to take up Production design at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde,
According to an article shared to us by Tumang, “It was his curiosity in birthing grandiose production that piqued his interest in pursuing this route.”
It was on his second year in college that his love for fashion design was awakened. Under the tutelage of professor and fashion designer Eric Pineda. Tumang re-embraced his passion for fashion design with the help of his theater group.
Rediscovering his Dreams
“Pursuing his dream and committing to his vision propelled Mak to take leaps of faith and move forth towards his goal.”
Even after this realization, Tumang had his first of failure during his early years. One of the major failures he experienced was when he was denied a slot at the Philippine Fashion Week.
Some of the people he looked up to went as far as discouraging him to follow fashion design and to cast his fashion aside. Tumang listened to the only voice that mattered: his own.
The journey wasn’t easy. Tumang’s uphill climb was accomplished by being a persistent presence in fashion editorials and consistently producing creations that made him a consistent fashion feature.
This all led to him attending the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London. This was a pivotal part of the journey that built a fashion brand we come to know now as Mak Tumang.
Designing Catriona Gray’s Evening Gown for Miss Universe
It was just a week after Binibining Pilipinas Coronation night that Tumang began drafting his initial concepts for the finals gown. He imagined the design and put it into drawing.
“(Initially) planning to hide the concept and wanting to secretly execute it before showing it to Catriona, I can’t contain my excitement about the concept that I presented it to her the same day,” reveals Tumang. “She loved it. It was love at first sight.”
The preparation took months of preparing several prototypes. He hunted for different fabrics and experimented with a lot of materials and techniques.
“(It took) numerous editing and revisions before I started with the hours and hours of the fastidious process of execution.”
In his Instagram, he revealed that he created 7 sketches, 4 prototypes, and 3 gowns. It took 2,712 hours of execution and more than a million worth of matertials.
For Tumang,it is everything a labor of love “for the Philippines.”
Catriona Gray in the Eyes of Mak Tumang
“Catriona is a real source of artistic inspiration, countles concepts and endless possibilities may come to life and bring it into being.”
Tumang shares an advice to aspiring Filipino designer who will be working on collaborative efforts like what he had with Gray.
“For a collaboration to be successful, it is very important to have this connected relationship with your muse, consider each other’s point of view to build trust and to have a unified vision.”
Working with Gray, “was never a dream, it was destiny.”
2018 Miss Universe Preliminary Competition
The Preliminary Competition is set to happen later at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand. Netizens not limited to Filipinos wait in abated breath the Preliminary evening gown of Catriona Gray made by no less than talented Mak Tumang himself.